Taking on Housing Crisis, Minneapolis Votes to End Single-Family Zoning

December 13, 2018 AT 9:30 AM

By Sarah Mervosh

In a bold move to address its affordable-housing crisis and confront a history of racist housing practices, Minneapolis has decided to eliminate single-family zoning, a classification that has long perpetuated segregation.

The Minneapolis City Council voted last Friday to get rid of the category and instead allow residential structures with up to three dwelling units — like duplexes and triplexes — in every neighborhood. Minneapolis is believed to be the first major city in the United States to approve such a change citywide.

Peggy Reinhardt, 75, an advocate who supported the decision, hopes the change will mean more housing options around her Uptown Minneapolis neighborhood. She sees young couples in apartments who cannot afford to scale up to $400,000 houses, while elderly residents nearby are “house rich and cash poor” and have few options to downsize in their neighborhood.

“It’s that missing middle,” she said.

As cities across the country contend with an affordable-housing crisis that has led to gentrification and homelessness, few have been willing to take on single-family zoning, a way of living that is fiercely protected by neighborhood groups. Portland, Ore., is working on a plan to allow fourplexes in nearly all single-family neighborhoods, and Seattle is considering rezoning 6 percent of its single-family neighborhoods to include more housing.

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